Are You Ready? One Week to Go

Here at Celtic Connections we're crossing the t's and dotting the i's in preparation for another scintillating, toe-tapping, amazing festival. Don't worry if the post-Christmas blues haven't quite shifted yet - it's just seven days until Celtic Connections 2014 warms the winter.

Firstly, an update on our star-studded International Burns Concert at The SSE Hydro (25 Jan). We've just agreed with BBC Scotland that they will be filming the event to go out later that night - so if you get your glad rags on and join us, as well as enjoying the likes of Capercaillie, Rachel Sermanni, Dougie MacLean and The Mahotella Queens, you might even be on the telly. The line-up is ever growing and there will be some surprise appearances on the night, as well as celebrations of the lives of South African hero Nelson Mandela and Northern Irish poet Seamus Heaney, both of whom have sadly passed away since last year's festival.

We're sure this blog will put you in the mood to join us for a big old knees-up and if so, you should definitely get your dancing shoes on for The Great Gathering (29 Jan, Old Fruitmarket). Putting a grand-scale Celtic Connections spin on the traditional concert-and-dance format, accordionist Alasdair MacCuish and Shetland fiddler Chris Stout bring together a lavish line-up including Solas's Seamus Egan, fiddlers Duncan Chisholm and Marie Fielding, pipes and whistle ace Fraser Fifield, harpist Catriona McKay, guitarist Tony Byrne, concertina wizard Simon Thoumire, top accordionists Duncan Black and Tom Orr, and pianist Gordon Middler.

Line up announced for Alliance Scotland concert
20 January, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Indie folk five-piece Admiral Fallow, songstress Eddi Reader, founder member of The Delgados Emma Pollock, Horse McDonald, Hue & Cry, Little Fire, Siobhan Wilson, Joe Nisbet Jnr and Tommy Reilly are among the acts joining us for the Alliance Scotland celebration concert. This show pays tribute to the love and dedication of Scotland's 660,000 carers, by bringing some of their inspiring stories to life with music.

Jazz up January
Celtic Connections is nothing if not a melting pot - and among our great jazz offerings this year is the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's collaboration with Mercury Prize-nominated pianist Gwilym Simcock and saxophonist Trish Clowes, a current Radio 3 New Generation artist. They'll be traversing boundaries to bring a feast of jazz, improv and classical. Also in a jazz vein, we've got Balkan Beat stars the Boban & Marko Markovic Orchestra and Manu Dibango, the first African musician ever to reach the US Top 40. Or for something a bit different, there's the National Jazz Trio of Scotland (not jazz, not a trio, in no way officially 'national') led by the wayward genius of Bill Wells.

Afternoon entertainment
Sure, we have a reputation for heating up when the sun goes down, but there's plenty to keep you going through the afternoons too. Sunday afternoons are made complete by the excellent line-ups at Hazy Recollections - this year they range from the 16-plus members of The Second Hand Marching Band to neo-bluegrass combo The Dirty Beggars, singer Alistair Ogilvy and hip-hop supremos Stanley Odd. The cream of young talent shows up for the Traditional Musician of the Year Young Trad Tour. And we've picked some 'ones to watch' for our New Voices concerts - featuring Admiral Fallow's Sarah Hayes, Doctor Who piper Lorne MacDougall and The Shee's Rachel Newton.

Other Celtic cultures
The Celts have always been a wandering lot and this is vividly brought to life this year in On Celtic Drover Tracks, which brings together eight leading folk musicians from the British Isles, Canada and Australia to perform two new works inspired by the history and lore of cattle droving. Celebrating the Celtic kinship between Scotland and Wales, we welcome some of the most exciting acts on today’s Welsh folk scene, including DnA and Gwyneth Glyn. From further afield, we have a Breton Night featuring Barzaz and Ronan Le Bars Group and central driving force in Québécois music, accordionist and singer Yves Lambert.